In 2016 the 1000 Hearts initiative was born. Sarah De Jonge had been following other kindness projects on social media for a while and felt inspired to do something similar; something focused on offering kindness without any agenda or pay-off. She wanted to make something small that could be given to people. She had seen other versions of pocket hearts and liked the universal symbol of the heart and wanted to put in practice her passion for sewing. Insights talked to Sarah, who said that offering of goodness into the world was her personal challenge.

De Jonge comes from a long line of makers in Hobart, Tasmania; this has instilled strong values in her around the integrity of hand-crafting quality items which are unique and made with love. She values the intersection of science, language and spirituality. 1000 Hearts brings together the power of story-telling, the science of mindfulness and self-compassion, with a little sprinkling of faith.

It’s hard to measure the impact of the initiative as there is no formal record of the amount of hearts made or given, but Sarah estimates that she has made between 10,000 – 15,000 hearts herself. She knows there are heartists out there who have made a few thousand themselves, and she has more than 7.5K followers on Facebook and 5,631 sales on Etsy. But since it is a global project, it’s hard to say how many hearts are out there.

1000 Hearts is an ongoing project continually looking to share more kindness.

“People can engage with it in many different ways – it’s designed to be inclusive and open to anyone who wants to be part of it,” Sarah said.

“You can request free hearts to offer to people in your world. There is an online form for this on the website. Or you can buy hearts to gift to people in random acts of kindness. You can access free instructions to make your own hearts or purchase kits, materials and templates. People can make one heart or thousands. They can give them or keep them, and there is a lot of flexibility in how it works. The only two requests I make is that people use sustainable materials and that they acknowledge 1000 Hearts so others can link to our community,” Sarah said.

During COVID-19 and as people are staying at home, looking for new things to do and craft, 1000 Hearts has been able to help many that are now more focused on kindness, looking at connecting with each other in different ways. According to Sarah, “1000 Hearts is a really pandemic-friendly Project! Schools and community groups have been using hearts to stay connected during the lockdown, people have made hearts and dropped them in letterboxes in their neighbourhoods – I think there has been an increase in that kind of giving.” For her, this project, “has been a gift during the pandemic – the beautiful people in our community have really sustained me and making hearts is a calming occupation which keeps me busy, productive and purposeful. I hope it has helped others as we face these difficult days together.”

I really just believe in the power of love and kindness.

Sarah De Jonge– 1000 Hearts

One compelling story Sarah recalled about the impact of 1000 Hearts was one she recently received from Anne, a supporter in Victoria, where there was a tragic incident that involved several members of the police force who lost their lives. “Anne offered some hearts to a police officer she knows in a gesture of solidarity and love. She recently received a photo of one of the hearts tucked into the pocket on a bulletproof vest.” For Sarah, it was a very powerful image that showed that our sense of safety goes beyond the physical – it is about feeling loved and cared for.

Finally, one of the key messages Sarah wants to reinforce through her initiative is about self-compassion.

“We try so hard to be kind to others and often forget or overlook the importance of offering compassion and care to ourselves. This might include self-forgiveness, self-encouragement, self-care or something different. I’ve discovered that being kind to others is not as meaningful or authentic if we are unable to offer that same kindness to ourselves.”

Sarah has a lot of ideas and visions for where the project could go. She just believes in the power of love and kindness.

For more information go to www.1000hearts.com.au

Angela Cadena

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